“Ineffective or risky” Procedures

5th July 2018

Written by Sara Davies, solicitor within our medical negligence department. 

In its 70th year we are all extremely proud of the service the NHS provides us through a team of hard working and dedicated staff.  It is no secret however, that financially the NHS is under huge strain leading to numerous cuts and long waiting times.

It has now been announced that NHS England are due to discuss proposals to stop or reduce 17 routine procedures which they deem to be “ineffective or risky”.

The proposals are currently that treatment will be offered for the following four conditions only upon request of the patient:

  • Dilation and curettage for heavy menstrual bleeding;
  • Injections for non-specific back pain;
  • Surgery for snoring; and
  • Knee arthroscopies

You will only be offered treatment for the following 13 procedures if a specific criteria is met:

  • Breast reduction;
  • Removal of benign skin lesions;
  • Removal of bone spurs for shoulder pain;
  • Varicose vein surgery;
  • Grommets for Glue Ear;
  • Hysterectomy for heavy menstrual bleeding;
  • Tonsillectomy for sore throats;
  • Trigger finger release;
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome release;
  • Haemorrhoid surgery;
  • Ganglion excision – removal of non-cancerous lumps on the wrist or hand;
  • Chalazia (lesions on eyelids) removal; and
  • Dupuytren’s contracture release for tightening of fingers.

For the majority of the 17 procedures under review NHS England have stated that there are alternative treatments such as physiotherapy or change of diet that are likely to be effective.

NHS England have estimated that in doing this it will free up £200 million which can then be invested in different areas within the NHS.  It is noted, however, that patients at risk of serious harm from their condition will continue to be offered treatment.

Consultations for the proposals are due to take place between 4th July and 28th September.  Following this any changes will be implemented in 2019/20.

It is important to note that these procedures are not to be stopped completely if you meet a specific criteria. Treatment will be offered if it is seen to be of “compelling” benefit and there are no alternatives.

In making/proposing such changes it is hoped that it will reduce the risk of patients undergoing risky procedures when there may be just as good/less invasive treatment options available.  In turn this will free up valuable resources for areas such as mental health.  If implemented correctly and it does not prevent patients who really need the proposed treatment from accessing it then potentially this could be a positive move to reinvest vital funding into areas that need it.

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